Matilda is turning eleven. She's a very sensible and capable girl. She doesn't see the need in accumulating lots of stuff. Last year for her birthday I took her to see Wicked. For Christmas we gave her a week of dance classes at a very good summer school.
I asked her what she wanted to do to celebrate her birthday. She said she wants her friends to ride their bikes to the park and have a picnic. Great. Then she organised it herself. I realised that I wouldn't be going to her birthday party. I asked if I should drop by to pick up any presents she might receive (although she told her friends she doesn't expect gifts), and she said OK. So I'll just pop by. We'll have a dinner of her choice on the day, and I'll make a cake of course, if she doesn't want to make it herself. And I'll book to take her to the ballet. She's a ballerina who has never seen a professional ballet production.
She's lovely. Bright and lovely. She's easy to be with. I can talk to her about big concepts, and I can trust her to do the right thing. She still holds my hand and wants to sit on my lap. If she has a bad dream she'll climb into my bed. She said she'll keep doing that after she turns eleven.
So, I'm thinking. When you have three kids under the age of five and are feeling frazzled, and people tell you that it gets easier, this is what they mean.